Flu season hits hard

By Lindsey Salvatelli

The 2017-2018 flu season has caused more Illinois residents to seek medical attention compared to the previous season.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, which tracks the outbreaks of communicable diseases, has seen an increase in the number of office visits, according to a Jan. 20 Illinois Department of Public Health weekly report.

The number of cases for people between the ages of 25 to 49 has increased by about 68 percent and the number of visits for individuals between the ages of 5 to 24 has increased by 41 percent compared to last year, according to the weekly report.

Cindy Graves, DeKalb County Health Department director of Community Health and Prevention and Health Promotion and Emergency Preparedness Division, said sudden onset of a combination of symptoms include fever, coughing and a sore throat.

“Usually there’s a fever that accompanies it, cough and/or sore throat,” Graves said.

“So, if you have the fever and a cough and if there’s a sore throat, then it’s probably the flu.”

Graves said if someone thinks they have flu symptoms, there are steps they should take to reduce the chance of passing it to another.

“If you develop symptoms, there are a couple things you should do,” Graves said. “Try to self-isolate so you’re not spreading it. If you’re coughing, make sure you’re coughing into a tissue, your elbow and really good hand-washing.”

The Center for Disease Control tracks influenza and has found that there are four common strains of the virus. The flu shots that people receive are developed to combat those strains, Graves said.

A flu shot isn’t a guarantee that a person won’t catch the flu because mutations are common, but it will reduce the severity of the symptoms if one were to catch it, Graves said.

“You should still get a flu shot because if you do get the flu, and you’ve got the flu shot then it’s going to be less severe because it protects against four different strains,” Graves said.

Andrew Digate, Student Health Services director, said proactive, preventative measures to reduce contracting the flu is one of the best things a student can do. He said the health service webpage has tips from the CDC listed that students should use.

“We at health services are really proactive in getting out a preventative message to students because really that’s the key way you can help yourself,” Digate said.